Opportunity Scholarship Program
Retention lawsuit: A group of parents has filed suit against the Florida Department of Education and seven school districts over the retention of third-graders who score poorly on the Florida Standards Assessments reading tests or opt out of taking the test. Sarasota attorney Andrea Mogensen filed the suit in Leon County on behalf of 14 parents. She argues that more factors should be considered if a student doesn’t do well on the test, and that students who are doing well should not need a test score at all. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Tallahassee Democrat. News Service of Florida.
Zika and schools: When classes begin Aug. 22 in Miami-Dade County schools, Florida Department of Health officials will be stationed at each of the six schools closest to the area just north of downtown Miami where Zika cases have been reported. The officials will check for standing water, answer questions and supply insect repellent. Miami Herald. Leon County school officials are taking preventative measures to fight the Zika virus. WFSU.
Mass transfers: About one-third of the 900 students at Daytona Beach’s Campbell Middle School decide to transfer. They were given that option through the Department of Education’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which allows students to transfer from underperforming schools. Campbell has received D grades from the state for the past four years. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Day 1: Scenes from the first day at school for a majority of Florida districts. Pensacola News Journal. Beth Kassab, Orlando Sentinel. Florida Today. Fort Myers News-Press. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Ocala Star Banner. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Northwest Florida Daily News. St. Augustine Record. Daily Commercial. Citrus County Chronicle. Highlands Today.
Planning time fight: Palm Beach County teachers are criticizing the school district after discovering they’ll lose an hour of planning time each week for required staff meetings. Union officials say it’s a violation of their contract. But district officials defend the meetings, saying collaboration among teachers boosts student achievement. Palm Beach Post.
Back to school: It’s back to school day for students in 38 of Florida’s 67 counties. Dixie and Washington counties also were supposed to start, but heavy rains have canceled the first day of classes. TCPalm. Florida Today. Fort Myers News-Press. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Gainesville Sun. Ocala Star Banner. Northwest Florida Daily News. St. Augustine Record. Citrus County Chronicle. Highlands Today. WFLA. WFTV. WTVY.
Mid-year promotions: State education officials are reminding school districts that third-grade students held back by low Florida Standards Assessments scores are eligible for early promotion if they show they can read at or above the level expected at the end of third grade. Gradebook.
Prayer in schools: The Hillsborough County School District warns a principal to stop leading prayers among employees in the school. District Chief of Staff Alberto Vazquez reminded Anthony Montoto, principal at Frost Elementary School, that “the principal of a public school should never lead or direct an activity that advocates for a particular doctrine of faith/non faith while performing his/her official duties.” Tampa Bay Times.
Teachers union pay: Forty-three of the 113 people employed by the Florida Education Association are paid more than $100,000 a year, according to records filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. The FEA is the largest labor union in the state, with more than 128,000 members. Florida Watchdog.org.